Beann Mhadaghain 2

Enniskillen Rangers 2 (aet)

Rangers won 4-2 on pens

Holders Enniskillen Rangers showed no shortage of character and a determination to hold on to their Junior Cup crown as they came from two goals down midway through the second half before going on to win on penalties against Beann Mhadaghain in Belfast on Saturday.

The ‘Gers have won the Junior Cup in both of the last two years but they looked to be facing defeat as the home side claimed a 2-0 lead.

However, the Ball Range based outfit dug deep and after Mark Cutler gave them hope with a fine 68th minute strike, captain Willie Burleigh once more popped up with a crucial goal to send the contest to extra time.

With neither side able to find a winner it was left to penalties to decide the tie and it was Rangers who held their nerve to progress.

Rangers player manager Michael Kerr always felt that his side would find a way to get back into the game.

“To say I’m proud of the boys would be an understatement,” said Kerr. “Although they were a really good side with quality players all over the pitch, at no stage did I ever feel that we were beaten and when we got it back to 2-1 I knew that we would go on to win it.

“The character shown by the players was brilliant and I was delighted with the way they reacted when they went 2-0 down. We’re just happy now to be in the draw for the next round.”

Rangers did not get off to the start that they hoped for as they fell behind after only three minutes following a scramble from a corner.

The visitors though felt that they had a strong penalty shout soon after when Jason Keenan appeared to be upended but nothing was given by the referee.

Kerr himself then had a header that was cleared off the line with Neil Coulter firing over from close range from the follow up. An injury to the player manager then forced him off as the home side maintained their advantage to the break.

It all seemed to be going wrong for Rangers when they conceded a second five minutes into the second half.

A change to a more attacking shape though paid off for Kerr’s outfit and with Burleigh pushed further forward they went more direct.

And midway through the half Rangers pulled a goal back as Cutler fired to the top corner from just outside the box.

Rangers continued to press after this and Michael Simpson headed over before Burleigh levelled matters in the 80th minute. He latched on to a Keenan flick and having rounded the goalkeeper he coolly slotted home from an acute angle to make it 2-2.

In extra time Cutler and Christopher Currie had chances to seal the win but they could not convert which left the game to be decided on penalties.

Keenan missed Rangers first but Conor Watson, Simpson, Richard Johnston and Ciaran Brough all hit the net and with goalkeeper Jerome Carleton saving twice it was Rangers who went on to secure their place in the next round.